Marshall Mesa has expanded its mountain biking access over the years, making this a nice place for a mellow ride very close to town, especially if you're coming from South Boulder. There are many different ways to link up the trails in the area, and options to cross Rte. 93 to access the trails on the east side of the highway. You can make a quick hour-long ride, or ride for several hours, depending on how you link it.
This ride takes advantage of much of the trail system west of Rte. 93, starting from the Doudy Draw
trailhead. It's probably the most popular place to start, especially for beginners.
You'll encounter a cruisy gravel road to start, then a singletrack climb with rocks, then a couple of fun loops through the woods, opening up to beautiful views of the plains and the famous Flatirons.
Start out on the Doudy Draw
trail, which is smooth gravel at first. After a short warm up on a gentle climb, you'll reach the Community Ditch
(irrigation canal). You could take the Community Ditch
trail to the left to get to Rte. 93 and the eastern trail system, but for this ride, continue on Doudy Draw
across the bridge.
The trail turns to singletrack after the bridge, and begins to climb somewhat steeply. Less advanced riders will be challenged by medium-sized rocks scattered across the trail on this section, but stick with it - things mellow out in less than a mile.
At the first intersection you come to at the top of the climb, stay right to head towards the Spring Brook loop. The singletrack winds around a bit and you'll quickly arrive at another intersection, which is the start of the Spring Brook loop. You can ride either way on this loop - either way you'll encounter great views over the plains to the Flatirons, then some fun twisty bits through the woods. This ride goes clockwise, which may provide a bit more fun on the twisty bits through the trees halfway around the loop.
Climb up a rocky singletrack that works its way into the trees and the trail will get twisty and more deeply wooded as you continue on. At the halfway point, you'll arrive at a marked intersection. The trail continues straight ahead (Spring Brook Loop North
) to complete the loop. This second half of the loop is a great section to work on your cornering technique as the trail twists back and forth on itself. As you emerge out of the woods, you'll start to take in expansive views across the plains to the Flatirons. To your left (west), you'll have a great perspective of the foothills, and may even see a train climb up towards the continental divide.
When you get back to the start of the Spring Brook Loop at the marked intersection, take a left and retrace the short section back to the Doudy Draw
trail intersection. This time, take a right to ride the part of Doudy Draw
you haven't done yet. This last part of Doudy Draw
is the most challenging section of trail in the entire system. It's definitely rideable, but quite steep as it climbs up to the Flatirons Vista.
Once you get to the top of the ridge, follow the trail north and take in the great views out over the trails you've just ridden. Eventually you'll come to a cattle fence. Go through the gate, and take a right to follow the Flatirons Vista South
trail. This trail is fairly straightforward - it's mostly flat and fast, but full of small, sometimes loose rocks, so ride within your ability level.
The trail loops around through the trees to the southern border of this trail system before it heads north and intersects with the Prairie Vista
trail. You can take either trail at this intersection - they both go to the same place. But for this ride, stay left to follow Prairie Vista
The riding on Prairie Vista
is very similar to the Flatirons Vista North
trail you just came from. Cruise down this trail until the next major intersection and take a left to get onto the other part of Flatirons Vista North
that you haven't ridden yet. Ride along the smooth doubletrack here until you reach the cattle fence and go back through the gate you rode through to start this loop.
From here, just retrace your steps along the entire Doudy Draw
trail, descending consistently back down to the trailhead. Remember the rocky climb and keep your speed in check there.
The trails in this area were primarily hiking trails, but have expanded to mountain bikers over the years thanks to efforts from the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance and other local interest groups. This area, where the foothills meet the plains, provides spectacular scenery, as well as glimpses into the rich history of the area. To learn more, grab a brochure at the trailhead, or view it here